Proteas turn to soccer after beating Sri Lankans

Wayne Parnell
Picture: BackPagePix

Parnell! To Rabada! Back to Parnell! Gooooaaaallll . . . !

What are a couple of cricketers to do on a drizzly day in Birmingham but take to Edgbaston’s indoor nets for a kickaround?

By then‚ yesterday’s training session was over and Wayne Parnell and Kagiso Rabada had pressganged a tall‚ imposing Gianluigi Buffon of a security guard into service between the pair of orange plastic beacons that served as goalposts.

Goal after goal flew past the keeper‚ but none of the quality of Mario Mandzukic’s spectacular strike for Juventus in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Cardiff on Saturday. But not too shabby‚ either. Certainly‚ Rabada and Parnell looked as if they were having more fun than in the first eight overs of Sri Lanka’s reply in their Champions Trophy match against South Africa at London’s Oval on Saturday.

Niroshan Dickwella, the short‚ sharp spike of a wicketkeeper-batsman, and Upul Tharanga, the lusty left-hander, took a liking to South Africa’s new-ball pair‚ tearing into them to score 68 runs off the first 49 deliveries they bowled in tandem. But there was no panic. Instead‚ changes were rung and when Parnell and Rabada returned it was as if those first eight overs had never existed.

Parnell‚ hit for 45 runs in his opening five-over spell, kept the damage down to nine runs in the second half of his 10.

Rabada went for 28 in his first four. His remaining six cost only 18.

“It was about staying in the moment‚ staying in the game‚” Parnell said yesterday after he and Rabada had had their fill of scoring goals.

“I had 10 overs to complete and the first five didn’t go according to plan‚ but it’s all about staying in the moment and doing what’s required.”

What was required on Saturday was to ensure that South Africa went to Birmingham with a win under their belts – achieved by 96 runs.

If it had gone the other way they would have had to take on Pakistan at Edgbaston tomorrow, knowing that another loss would probably mean the end of their hopes of a place in the semifinals.

Instead‚ Pakistan are under that pressure in the wake of shambling to a 124-run defeat in their mega-match against India at Edgbaston on Sunday.

Drilled for 319/3 in the 48 overs India’s innings was reduced to by rain‚ Pakistan – chasing a revised 289 off 41 overs – lurched to 164 all out inside 34 overs.

India did not lose a wicket until the 25th over‚ when they had put 136 on the board.

Pakistan’s last seven wickets crashed for 50 runs.

So South Africa should be favourites tomorrow.

But Parnell knew better than to think so‚ particularly with the famously volatile Pakistanis ranged against his men.

Parnell has been known to play a “Pakistani” brand of cricket – fabulous in one match‚ frustrating in the next.

But with experience has come a level of consistency that has seen him entrusted with the new ball in 13 of the 18 one-day internationals he has played since becoming a regular member of the team a year ago.

  • Australia face a make or break showdown with England after their Group A clash against Bangladesh was abandoned due to rain yesterday.

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